After winning a gold medal, the swimmer flashed a mouthful of stars-and-stripes-shaped diamonds that had been created for him by the rapper Paul Wall and Johnny Dang, a Houston jeweler to the hip-hop stars who goes by the handle of TV Johnny.
Mr. Lochte, who has worn grills at previous meets to show off his personality, as he has said, was actually asked not to wear this one on the podium. But there were plenty of opportunities for him to be photographed in it afterward, setting off a minor debate, not so much over a white swimmer’s appropriation of a style that became fashionable among rappers more than decade ago, but more about whether he could pull it off.
“I was really a bit upset when I saw it,” said Robert Tateossian, a designer who has been watching the Games closely. “It is so nonharmonious with his image and with the sport that he represents. Swimming is such an elegant sport. It is all about softness, like the softness of the water.”